I recently read Romeo and Juliet (again). I won’t bother reviewing the book because I know most people have already read it (or have seen a hundred movies about it), and likely don’t need my review on it. Actually, the reason I decided to write anything about it at all is due to other reviews that I came across.
Looking at the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I was a bit surprised at the number of reviewers who were critical of the book/play, and also at their reasons for being critical. One of the most common criticisms I noticed was that it has an “unrealistic storyline,” in many instances it was because the two fall in love so quickly, while in others, the complaint was aimed at the absurdity of the Friar giving Juliet the mixture that put her into a coma for a very specific period of time. Well, if you can’t suspend disbelief long enough to pretend that Juliet could trick her family into thinking she was dead for a couple of days, but you will sit through a two-and-a-half-hour presentation of the movie IT, you may want to ask yourself if it’s the storyline that’s the problem, or just your modern tastes in CGI, action-packed, modern storytelling. Regardless, if that’s your issue with the story, so be it; there’s room for different tastes for sure.
But, I do want to clear up this notion that it’s ridiculous to think that two people can fall in love in one night. You don’t have to take my word for it if you don’t wish to, but over fifteen-years ago, I experienced that very thing firsthand. My wife and I went on a first date (all the way back in late 2001) that ended up lasting all day. We had a college gym class together that morning; we left class together, skipped the rest of our classes for the rest of the day, and went to the gym to get a workout in. That afternoon, we went to the mall and did a little shopping, then out to dinner, and then to a concert. At the end of that night, we kissed each other, and I was so in love with her that I haven’t spent a day without her since. True story. Now, granted, we weren’t thirteen-years and sixteen-years old; we were more like nineteen and twenty. We also waited a year (to the day) to get married, and of course our parents weren’t feuding with each other, so that helped. But, to be fair, this happened in 2001, not 1594. In 1594, we probably would have wanted to get married that first night. My point is the following: criticize their ages if you wish; criticize their suicide. But don’t criticize their falling in love in one evening; that’s the most realistic part of the play.
I will say that this ‘Shakespeare in Plain English’ volume is great for Shakespeare beginners. If you’re not familiar with the layout, it’s set up so that Shakespeare’s work is on every left page, and the “plain English” translation is on every right page. I actually bought this so I could give it to my kids to read, specifically in hopes to least catch the attention of my my daughter. She loves tween romance novels like Twilight, so Romeo and Juliet may be the perfect segue into classic literature. I just so happened to get a hold of the book before she did, so I read it, too. I’m happy to report that she did read the book and seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.
No Fear Shakespeare: 304 pages: SparkNotes; Study Guide ed. edition (April 15, 2003)
Thanks for reading! If you are so inclined, go pick up my book (available on Kindle or paperback) at Amazon. It’s called “Jamey Jones and the Sons of Noah.” It’s a fun science fiction book about a group of teenagers living on a planet called Kepler 438b. It’s seventy pages long, inexpensive, and it’s kinda good, even if I say so myself.